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Beyond Earth Day: Making a commitment to the environment

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

Lifestyle changes for the earth

Earth Day offers a terrific opportunity to promote the protection of the environment and encourage sustainability. However, it's just one day a year. If you forget about the earth the next morning, then all the Earth Day events and activities were for naught. By following these simple steps, you can make long-term lifestyle changes that can make a real difference.

Woman with resusable shopping bags

1Reduce waste

The R's aren't reading, (w)riting and (a)rithmetic anymore. They are reduce, reuse and recycle. The easiest way to reduce waste is not to create it. By reducing and reusing, you can save natural resources and lower the costs of waste management. In 2009, 243 million tons of waste was generated in the U.S. -- 4.3 pounds per person per day.

Before you throw anything in your trash, ask yourself how you can reuse it or if you can recycle it. Do the obvious to reduce your waste. Switch from disposable diapers to cloth. Use cloth shopping bags -- not paper or plastic. Skip the bottled water and put a filter on your faucet instead.

Last year, over 38 billion plastic bottles ended up in landfills. If you need a portable water bottle, make it stainless steel. Pura Stainless Steel bottles are the perfect alternative to plastic bottles. Stainless steel resists corrosion and staining, and they are 100% BPA-free. Pura Stainless Steel offers bottles in a variety of sizes including baby bottles.

Stop using paper towels. Old T-shirts, towels, blankets and fabric remnants are great substitutes. Cut them into a usable size and keep them on hand in every room of your house. Wash and reuse them again and again.

2


Save energy

Reduce energy and gasoline consumption with these eight simple suggestions.

  1. Switch to energy-efficient appliances.
  2. Replace traditional light bulbs with CFLs.
  3. Invest in a programmable thermostat (only heat/cool your house when you are home).
  4. Caulk your windows, replace weather stripping and beef up insulation.
  5. Turn off your computer when you aren't using it.
  6. Never drive when you can walk or bike.
  7. Organize a carpool for your office.
  8. Buy a fuel-efficient or hybrid vehicle.

Green up your home with these eco-friendly decorating tips >>

3Save water

Make a commitment to save water. You'll save money too!

  • Install a rain barrel - Use rainwater for anything but drinking and you can cut your water bill by half.
  • Wait until your washer is full - Don't run your dishwasher or washing machine until it's full. Reduce energy consumption by hanging your clothes to dry.
  • Put on a timer - Limit showers to just five minutes for everyone in your family. Install low-flow, water-saving showerheads, toilets and faucets.

4Clean green

Be eco-friendly by eliminating the use of toxic chemicals in your home. Believe it or not, you can make natural cleaning solutions from salt, baking soda and vinegar that are tough on dirt and grime.

  • Window cleaner - 3 tablespoons of vinegar to one gallon of water
  • Oven cleaner - Add table salt directly to baked-on food while your oven is warm, then wipe away
  • Bathroom cleanser - 2 tablespoons of baking soda to one quart of warm water
  • All-purpose cleaner - 2:1 solution of water and vinegar, plus a squirt of lemon juice

5Plant a garden

Growing food yourself saves money, plus it cuts down on the energy used to mass produce and transport food. If you don't have a green thumb, help organize a community garden or, at the least, buy all your food from local farmers.

Get gardening tips from our blog: Can You Dig It >>

Take part in Earth Day activities and events, then continue to promote the environmental movement, advocate for policy solutions and encourage sustainability through green living every day of the year. If we all make eco-friendly lifestyle changes, we can reduce our carbon footprint, eliminate air and water pollution, and make the world a better place for future generations.

More about green living

Green cooking
Go green at work
How to design a green home

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